A 65-year-old male patient with a history of chronic alcoholism complained of an odd, painless white growth over his tongue. Doctors at the Government Medical College in Latur, India were intrigued when they identified the hard white growth as a rare case of spindle cell carcinoma.
Spindle cell carcinoma is an aggressive variant of squamous cell carcinoma. These tumours get their name from their distinctive spindle-shaped cells, readily detectable by immunohistochemistry.
Occurrence of this type of tumour on the tongue is exceedingly rare, says author Dr Manisha Biradar.
Less than 1% of oral tumours contain spindle cells, which may discourage doctors from screening for these rare anomalies.
"Since spindle cell carcinoma is a highly malignant tumour with a propensity for early metastasis and high recurrence rates, this needs to be diagnosed at an early stage," Dr Biradar warns.
Dr Biradar hopes that this case report will encourage other doctors to consider screening for spindle cells when diagnosing tumours of the head and neck.